Cairenes discuss Egypt's presidential elections with Serene Assir
On the eve of what the government has termed Egypt's first democratic presidential elections, Cairenes expressed a mixture of emotions, varying from staunch support of President Hosni Mubarak's regime to general indifference; from fear of change and of retaliation by the state for their opposition, to a cynicism that potential political change would bear real fruit.
Below are samples from the street.
"I will vote for President Mubarak of course. Is there anyone else worth voting for? He knows everything there is to know in this world, and other than that, I love him. Tomorrow I hope to be the first in line to cast my vote." -- Shaaban Eid, koshari vendor, Bulaq Al-Gedid
"I don't want Mubarak to stay in power, so I'll vote for Noaman Gomaa. What's the president done for us over the past 24 years? I feel Gomaa will be able to get rid of corruption and work in the interests of the country. He has said he would provide benefits for the unemployed, and unlike other candidates, he backs his promises with guarantees from private companies." -- Ahmed, student, Bulaq Al-Gedid
"I can tell you that God empowers he who deserves it. Mubarak now has all he needs -- he will not steal any more like others might." -- Haj Hashem, café worker, Zamalek
"I hope I'll be able to vote tomorrow, for Mubarak of course. The thing is, I haven't yet managed to get my voting card. If I do cast my vote for the president, it will be because it is not the right time for change in Egypt. What is needed right now are people who have the experience and maturity to run the country. We are living sensitive times, and Mubarak can at least provide stability and the status required to maintain it." -- Hussein Ali, tourism sector agent, Zamalek
"I won't be going to vote tomorrow because when I went to get my voting card, I was told I was too late. What the electoral commission probably did not take notice of was the fact that this election is a first for the Egyptian people, and that many would not have made all the necessary arrangements on time for lack of experience. In any case, I don't feel that this vote will make much of a difference. Things will only change gradually, not this time round. Perhaps the next elections will be different." -- Anat, training consultant, Zamalek
"I'm not going to participate. This election is a fraud, a theatrical act. So far, the performance is going according to plan -- people are falling for it. But there is nothing actually free about these elections. Even the opposition candidates play their own particular roles within the play. Think about it, the Egyptian people have heard of only two candidates aside from Mubarak -- Ayman Nour and Noaman Gomaa. And even while Nour is raising the right issues in his campaign, he stands no chance of winning, considering the political atmosphere that 24 years of Mubarak's rule has created." -- Magdi, lawyer, Zamalek
"The point, as far as I'm concerned, is not to change the person in power -- it's far more complex than that. What we need in Egypt is real grassroots change, starting from each and every individual trying to improve his or her role in society. One of the ways in which we could theoretically achieve this is by improving the educational system. Of course, our problem is that every aspect of civil society is intrinsically tied to the state. It is this that we need to free ourselves of, this Catch-22, and not simply think of replacing one leader with another." -- Sameh, lawyer, Zamalek
"I would vote for Mubarak. I like him because thanks to him I get to go to the club and my life is good. He has improved our hospitals and our schools. I also like him because he is Suzanne Mubarak's husband." -- Souad, aged 10, schoolgirl, Imbaba